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Home » Opinion

Opinion: Snapseed and getting gobbled up by a Big Player.

Submitted by on September 18, 2012 – 5:21 am 19 Comments

Instagram!

There. I said it. I must be one of the cool kids now. Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, The Verge and a bunch of other sites and blogs that should know better today are calling Snapseed the Instagram rival — many of them in the headline of their post. I’ll bet most of those writers hadn’t even heard of Snapseed until today. If they had, they would know that the two are not rivals. They are far from it. Snapseed is about photography and creating the best image. Instagram is about connecting with people and sharing photos. I don’t know of anyone saying “follow me back on the Snapseed network.”

One thing the two apps have in common is that they were both recently purchased by the two biggest players in the game.

The goal for many a start up is to get bought out, make fat cash, as founding visionaries get a seat on the board, and promise that the acquired company will be run “independently under our umbrella.” I’m happy that the teams of both Instagram and Snapseed have gotten their payday. Well done. I also think today’s announcement starts the death knell of Snapseed as we know it.

Google doesn’t have a great track record of letting acquired companies run as standalone entities. All of its current properties are very tightly integrated with Google. Unless you’re concerned about privacy and information mining, that’s not necessarily bad, but it’s much different than the way Snapseed operates now.

I don’t share the same view as many others who have reported this today. I don’t think this acquisition is Google’s quick and easy attempt at creating a social network to rival Instagram. I see this as Google trying to beef up all of the offerings in its photo products portfolio. I’m afraid I don’t see Google in the off-the-shelf imaging software business or in the App Store business, five bucks at a time.

I think the upcoming release of Snapseed for Android will immediately add more clout to the ‘Droid Photography platform. I’m unaware of any high-end photo editing apps currently available for Android. Sorry, Droidographers, but on the iPhone, there are far better image editors than Photoshop Express. I could not find any Droid photo apps comparable to Snapseed, Filterstorm, PhotoForge2 or PhotoGene2. I think we’ll see expedited development for other, smaller screen Android devices as well. Continued development is good and cross-platform support benefits all mobile photographers.

Over time, I see Google beefing up Picasa’s features using technology and algorithms from Nik’s desktop suite of plugins — HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Sharpener Pro. Or, imagine Google beefing up its own Camera or Picasa app for Android with the pro-quality features of Snapseed. With today’s announcement, Google just bought the tools and the talent to jumpstart both projects.

Recently, Google purchased Sparrow, a third-party GMail client for Mac. Google then immediately mothballed the app, moving Sparrow’s five employees into “other projects for GMail.” Prior to that, the search giant bought social advertising service Meebo and shifted all of its employees to Google+. Google has a long history of mining startups for talent, integrating teams, and shuttering acquisitions. However, past performance is no guarantee they’ll do the same thing here.

Right now, I believe Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg when he says that there are no plans for “making (Instagram) come into our infrastructure” — not right away, at least. With Google’s history of assimilating startups and their talent, I can’t say I’m as confident that won’t happen with Nik and Snapseed. I have to say that right now I’m a little concerned over the long-term future of this premier photo editing app on the iOS platform. I’m afraid that under Google, we’ll see Snapseed for iOS languish, relegated to bug fix releases, while its development team is reassigned to Google’s other properties.

There’s a lot of love for Snapseed on the iOS platform — currently over 9 million users. And I’m happy for the Nik Software team — good on ya! I hope I’m very wrong about Google’s next moves.

=M=

What do you think about Google’s acquisition of Nik Software and Snapseed? Let us know in the talkback below.

~~~~

 

 

Marty Yawnick

Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.

  • Fredrik Nilsson

    To be honest, Google scares me… a lot…

    If Yahoo! would have bought the company, then Flickr might have regained its former glory. Google on the other hand has the resources to do almost anything, it just don't have the talent to use it (search the net for former purchases to see for yourself). For me, Snapseed is a dead app within less then six months.

    Google — if you read this — please prove me wrong this time.

    • Tomba

      +1

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Flickr + Nik would have been awesome. =M=

  • Jeff White

    Hmm…one word…Picnik

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Great point, Jeff. =M=

    • Miki

      I agree. I followed Picnik's closing with disappointment and then never heard anything of them ever again. The Snapseed debacle motivated me to uncover what had happened to Picnik…a Google+ photo editor that has not improved or been developed. Gone is the community, the interaction, the new features. How can Google, whose motto is 'do no evil' be the eater of small companies while Facebook, who we think of as evil, is playing the nice guy?

      • Mike Hardaker

        I think it's some time since evil-avoidance has been a core Google strategy, to be honest. However, I think it is worth pointing out that Google does seem to be very good at keeping the people it buys (and people are what it seems to buy, on the whole, not their products), which would suggest the the people *in* the business being acquired generally seem happy not only with the deal they have made but with life as a Googler thereafter. And that's pretty unusual in the startup M&A world. So maybe Google is more benign than it seems to some here, at least to the people most directly affected by its deal-making…

        • Miki

          I guess I just hate it when my toys are taken away.

          • Mike Hardaker

            Oh yeah. And how! ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/Glenn72 @Glenn72

    It's too bad Nokia didn't buy them out. The Vintage film, Grunge and Drama effects would work nicely as lenses on the new WP8 Lumia phones.

  • Chris Dunlap

    I've really grown to love Snapseed and fail to recognize how Google buying NIK is going to truly benefit me ?

  • Nick

    I totally agree there is no really good photo editor for android it is one of the resons I am switching to an iPhone. But
    What worries me more is nik's photoshop filters, the really are the best I have used them since they first came out, that is a worry as well I know we here talk about Iphotography but this has bigger picture to it. I love snapseed it is my go to photo editor on my iPad and will be that way on the phone once I get my iPhone.

    I just hope google understands what the ip it is a more professional filter company tat made a easy to ios program that get great results. Lets hope hey do not mess with a good thing and do whatever integrated stuff they want but also do not mess with the standalone product.

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Hi, Nick,

      I'm glad you mentioned the filters here. I've been aware of them for a while but have never used them. I share your concern. I don't picture Google as an off-the-shelf software vendor. I suspect that many of those technologies may find their way into Picasa after a while.

      I hope none of Nik's software is end of lifed. If Google does decide to go in a different direction, I hope the apps find another good home, much in the way that Genuine Fractals found its way to OnOn Software where it has been continually developed.

      What worries me (and I should have put this in my post) is that neither Google or Nik have explicitly said what will happen to the apps and other software. At least Facebook has been insistent that nothing will happen at Instagram.

      =M=

      • Nick

        Yeah google is not and off the shelf dev. So that can be a concern. I also agree not saying what the vision forward is worries me as well. This could really kill a great ip. One can hope it does find a home like fractals does, but no talking about the future is a real concern. Facebook in my mind bought ig for the social networking. Fb wants to own any and all casual social networking and has not a lot of intrest in making a camera filter app or at least tat is how I see it.

  • Chris

    If NIK Software had just sold Snapseed to Google, it would have been a loss as an iPhoneographer, but not a huge hit to me and others a photographers. But, as a professional photographer, the to be assumed complete loss of the single best photo editing suite on the market is horrible.

    I cannot imagine a world where Google allows the core products of NIK – its Efex Pro suite plugins – to continue forward in an independent and innovative way. And, the silence from NIK other than a brief announcement on their website – not even an email to its loyal customers!!! – tells me and many that this is essentially a sell out from our perspective. We, its loyal customers and users, have been left behind.

  • http://about.me/ifrippe Fredrik Nilsson

    If the fate of SketchUp is anything to go by, then Google will take the bits that fit with its profile and then sell the software to another company.

  • http://stanleybreeden.com Kaisa Breeden

    This is sad news. It sounds the death-knell for some fantastic, innovative editing software & likewise the app.

  • https://www.facebook.com/steven.russell.thomas Steven Thomas

    Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated into the Borg collective! (just sayin')

  • alyss

    same as Piknic, then, only this time it is some seriously excellent high end photographic software that will be destroyed. Picnik was hugely loved and used by many, but that did not stop Google simply closing it down. Google is not interested in photography and does not understand or care about the needs of photographers or the creative process. It simply takes every opportunity to try to make everyone join its "social" networks, where you are then subjected to dubious "niche" advertising. There seems to be a massive confusion if Snapseed and the Photo Effex Pro suites are understood to be comparable with Instagram. What worries me the most is Google's acquisition of Silver Effex Pro, as there is simply no other software to compare for fine black and white photography.